Couple charged with killing 1-year-old girl being watched at their Austin apartment

- A woman and her fiance are charged with causing the death of an infant girl while they were watching her last month at their West Side home.

The mother of 1-year-old Malaysia Williams dropped her daughter off at the Austin neighborhood apartment so that she could be watched by a family member while she was working irregular hours, according to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.

A week later, the girl was dead.

Williams was in good health and up to date on her medical care when her mother left her with 55-year-old Gloria Peterson at her apartment in the 1300 block of North Lorel, according to state’s attorney’s office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton.

Police and paramedics were called about 2 a.m. Jan. 10 after Williams became unresponsive, authorities said. She was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead a little over an hour later.

An autopsy conducted by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office found the girl had died of multiple injuries from child abuse and her death was ruled a homicide.

Williams had suffered fractures to the back and side of her skull that were severe enough that they could have caused the girl’s death within minutes of when they were inflicted, Simonton said. She also has massive bruising to her face and a lacerated liver.

Doctors and the medical examiner’s office determined that all of the girl’s injuries would have been inflicted within hours of when the girl died, Simonton said.

According to prosecutors, the only people in the apartment with Williams at that time were Peterson and her 55-year-old fiance, Henry Ford.

Henry Ford, 55, was taken into custody Jan. 12 in the 4200 block of West Madison, Chicago Police said. The next day, 55-year-old Gloria Peterson, was taken into custody in the 5400 block of West Ohio.

During interviews with detectives, Peterson made conflicting statements, prosecutors said. First, she said she might have thrown the girl and later said her fiance, Ford, might have thrown the girl.

Both Ford and Peterson were subsequently charged with first-degree murder and were being held without bail at the Cook County Jail.

They were scheduled back in court Feb. 9.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Child and Family Services said the agency had no prior contact with the girl’s family. An investigation by the agency was ongoing.

A fundraiser set up by the family to help pay for the girl’s funeral costs had raised $979 toward a goal of $5,000 as of Friday afternoon.

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